Readers' Letters: May elections are nothing to do with Johnson

Nicola Sturgeon is asking people to vote for the SNP in the local authority elections to “Send Boris a message”, but Boris Johnson is not responsible for your bins, your education, your planning, your parks, your verges, your potholes, your schools, your swimming pools, your libraries, your street lights, your social housing, your town halls, your council tax, your business rates or your social care.

The councillors you may elect are responsible for these things. Ms Sturgeon herself has no role in these things either, although she does consistently ensure that local government is poorly funded, and this makes their job much more difficult.

The choices you make on 5 May will determine the services you receive for the next five years. Only the people whose names are on the ballot paper are relevant. The rest, including Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson, are not. It is none of their business. The SNP message is as misleading as the big yellow bus showing a picture of Ms Sturgeon from ten years ago. They no longer have much to offer, so are falling back on old messages and images, none of which reflect reality today.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Nicola Sturgeon's campaign bus will tour Scotland in the 21 days before the local elections (Picture: Jane Barlow - Pool/Getty Images)Nicola Sturgeon's campaign bus will tour Scotland in the 21 days before the local elections (Picture: Jane Barlow - Pool/Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon's campaign bus will tour Scotland in the 21 days before the local elections (Picture: Jane Barlow - Pool/Getty Images)


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I have to agree with the Scotsman editorial of 16 April, saying the local election should be about just that, referring to the SNP bus slogan, “Send Boris a message”. Typical electioneering, not just from the SNP, and it will probably work.

The trouble is, Boris is not standing in the local elections, and by deflecting the message on to national issues, it takes the focus away from the SNP’s poor record on local government, ie the shortage of funding. As I say, the tactic will probably work, then the SNP, if they do well, will claim a mandate for another referendum, Depressing!

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Bad job

In a Scotland on Sunday interview Nicola Sturgeon refused to apologise to islanders over the ferries issue. She chooses instead to “regret” the fiasco before hastily emphasising she does not regret “saving the shipyard”. The number of jobs claimed to be saved has now miraculously increased from 300 to 400 – a claim which does not accord with the evidence. Reports from the Scottish Government's Strategic Commercial Interventions Division and from Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd for a 14-week period at the end of 2021 show that the number working on one hull oscillated between 25 and 60, while the number for the other was in the 60s; only in four of these weeks did the number working on each top 100.

Moreover, we need to know how many of these were Scottish workers. Tim Hair, the expert being paid nearly £3,000 a day to "turn around" the situation, frequently bemoaned the fact he could not get enough local workers and was having to import them from places such as Romania. Does Ms Sturgeon “regret” throwing £300 million of taxpayers money not at "saving" Scottish jobs but to give employment to foreign workers?

But surely her most outrageous claim in this interview is that the Scottish Government has been “fully transparent” on this issue! It is still not clear who finally signed off the contract despite Ms Sturgeon's weaselly attempt to pin the blame on Derek Mackay. And more importantly, who decided – and why – to ignore the advice of experts and waive a refund guarantee clause, a “mandatory” provision to protect Scottish taxpayers from catastrophic losses? Not even the Auditor General has been able to penetrate the SNP culture of secrecy to to winkle out these crucial pieces of information. Never mind sending a message to Boris – send one to this incompetent and secretive cabal which is anything but stronger for Scotland.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

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Interview: Nicola Sturgeon on ferries fiasco and an independence referendum 'nex...

Ferry failure

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has commented on record that the SNP handling of the ferry fiasco has made our once leading shipbuilding industry the “laughing stock of the world”. Embarrassment piles on embarrassment on top of eye-watering incompetence and lack of leadership on an industrial scale.

Bear in mind that this is the party and leaders who continually cry out for more control of the economic levers. All I can say is that they show such breathtaking lack of basic ability, the very thought of them having more powers than they already have – and they had total decision making control of the ferry fiasco – should send shudders down the spines of those who care about Scotland and its future.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Just one thing

John McLellan's article, “Johnson needs to do the right thing” (Perspective, 16 April) concludes by claiming that “the right thing is for Mr. Johnson to depart”. I disagree. He is a fallible leader, as so many of our Prime Ministers have been and present leaders of opposition parties are.

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His supporters say that "he gets the big things right", e.g. Ukraine but, for me, the big thing that he appears to be getting right is that he is the only party leader, and one of the very few MPs and MSPs, who is prepared to define what a woman is. Mr Johnson said in the Commons on 22 March, "When it comes to distinguishing between a man and a woman, the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important" and went on to say that trans people should be treated with the maximum possible generosity and respect. For that alone, I will vote Conservative in both local and national elections.

Lovina Roe, Perth

Thick of it

In his reasoned response to Boris Johnson’s committing criminal offences while being a PM and an MP, Gordon Bannatyne (Letters, 16 April) suggests that the minor nature of the offences mean that we should “not get carried away and let us look at the bigger picture”.

Included in the “bigger picture” is a Prime Minister who openly admits that he does not have the intellectual ability to understand what the letter of a simple law states. Setting aside the moral values of the principle of “one rule for them and another for us”, should a person of such limited intellectual ability lead a country in a time of crisis?

Francis Roberts, Edinburgh

Windy cities?

Anyone who opposes a wind farm is frequently referred to as a “Nimby”. This is due to the fact they are generally quoted as describing them as eyesores or blots on the landscape. No doubt these people also explain in great detail, as only someone who actually lives beside a wind farm is capable of doing, how it affects their lives due to the constant noise and flicker – not just during the day but also at night if they are unlucky enough to suffer from aviation lights on the turbines – as well as the worry that their property will be devalued or even rendered unsellable.

These are some of the problems associated with living beside wind farms which are either ignored or perhaps not understood by people living in cities and towns when they give their opinions in surveys. Hence the reason we get poll results such as the latest from YouGov, claiming that “Three quarters of Britons would back a local wind farm”.

From information already received by campaign group Scotland Against Spin, through correspondence with YouGov, we can see that of the 1826 UK respondents to this survey (weighted results) there were only 157 Scottish respondents (0.0028 per cent of the Scottish population) even though there are more onshore turbines in Scotland than in the rest of the countries in the UK put together. There is no information as to where these respondents live in relation to any wind farm.

The 157 total number of Scottish respondents compare with 219 respondents from London, where there are no onshore wind farms and never likely to be any, and a further 614 respondents from the “south of England”, where there are very few onshore wind farms, all of them tiny in comparison with Scotland’s. England’s turbines are generally less than 100m whereas Scotland has consented to turbines of 200m, with proposals for 260m turbines.

It is easy to say you support wind farms in your neighbourhood when you can be confident that you won’t ever have one.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire

Fat chances

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Stephen Jardine (Perspective, 16 April) says we need “changes to planning to stop [junk food] operators opening near school and targeting children”. The problem, though, lies not so much with planning but with licensing, because the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 makes it clear that the functions of a licensing authority do not include protecting public health, although a liquor licensing board is permitted to take this into account.

When asked about this apparent anomaly three years ago, particularly in the case of fast-food vans lurking near schools, Joe Fitzpatrick, the then Minister for Public Health, Sport & Wellbeing, replied with a lot of waffle, speaking of “a holistic package of guidance”, “a raft of possible actions” and working “collaboratively”, confidently stating that these and other actions in their “delivery plan” should help “achieve our ambition to halve childhood obesity”. In the past three years this does not appear to have been particularly successful.

Sadly, the Minister showed no interest at all, and nor have his successors, in giving councils the power to control the siting of purveyors of fast-food with respect to schools, which would be well within the powers of the Scottish Government were they so minded.

One can only conclude that the Scottish Government just does not care about the health of impressionable school pupils, failing to protect them from a daily diet of junk food; in fact one could say they are doing “burger all”.

(Cllr) Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews & Strathkinness ward, Fife Council

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